Location: Bruges, Belgium
Completion date: 2018
Artwork budget: $150,000
5 tons of plastic waste pulled out of the Pacific Ocean, turned into a 4 story tall whale for the 2018 Bruges Triennial – a reminder of the 150,000,000 tons of plastic waste still swimming in our waters. ‘Skyscraper’ is a physical example of why we need to change how we use and dispose of plastic in the world today
The organizers of the 2018 Bruges Triennial, approached us to create an artpiece interpreting the idea of the “liquid city”, a concept that defines the city as an ever-changing set of consumer transactions, whose identity is in flux as cities grow more and more connected through globalization. Our first thought led us to thinking about the biggest liquid city on the planet - the ocean- how it connects us all, and how the waste produced and consumed in our cities, specifically plastic waste, ends up in the ocean.
Scientists estimate there are 150 million tons of plastic trash in the ocean right now, with an estimated 8 million tons added every year. That means, pound for pound, there is more plastic waste from our cities swimming in the ocean than there are whales. A whale, breaching from the water, is the first "skyscraper of the sea", and as the largest mammal in the water, it felt like the right form for our piece to take in order to show the scope and scale of the problem.
So, we proposed collecting as much plastic waste out of the oceans that we could in 4 months, and shaping that waste into 'Skyscraper', an almost 4 story tall whale pushing out of one of Bruges' main canals, and arching over historic Jan Van Eyck Square at the city's center.